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Posted: 01/15/14

RCS parents asking for
gifted child education

Observer Staff Writer
      Parents interested in establishing educational programs for above-average students are being encouraged to unite their voices.
       An introductory meeting will be held 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 23 at Romeo High School in room 202 for parents to express their support in creating programming for their gifted elementary students.
       Diana Hart is the Michigan Association of Gifted Children (MAGC) Region 6 liaison. She said statistically, 5 to 8 percent of a school's student body is made up of gifted children.
       Hart said the meeting would determine how many Romeo parents are interested in forming gifted and talented programs in the district's elementary schools. The meeting would also determine if parents want to form a Romeo chapter of the MAGC that would meet on a regular basis.
       "The meeting of parents would be to become organized and state we need gifted and talented programs because we don't have any," she said.
       Establishing a chapter would only be the first step, as a school district determines the policies and funding for such programs. Hart said in Michigan teachers do not take gifted and talented methodology classes because nothing from the state requires it.
       "There is a whole education world that most schools in Michigan haven't tapped into because we don't have legislation," she said.
       Hart said MAGC is advocating the creation and passing of a bill that would define what gifted kids are and how to identify them. The bill would require school districts to have gifted programming.
       According to the MAGC, the traits commonly associated with a gifted child include a large vocabulary, extreme curiosity, boredom with routines and a strong need for precision most often associated with using the word "actually."
       Romeo Assistant Superintendent Eric Whitney said the district doesn't have any specific curriculum for gifted and talented education, but it does have advanced placement or honors classes at the secondary level.
       He said the district wants to make sure each student's education is customized and meeting their needs, so having parents voice their interest is helpful.
       "At this point we're just exploring what might be appropriate for students," he said. "Forming a chapter of MAGC is a great step for them and a great way for them to organize."
       Whitney said budgeting for the programs would be a challenge to address, such as funding personnel to teach the courses or to screen and identify gifted students.
       "We are looking at what good practices we can do, that teachers can do that don't require huge amounts of investment and time," he said.
       Tea Nikolovski is one parent interested in having gifted and talented programming in Romeo. She said it would help balance the fact that there are programs for struggling students, but not gifted students.
       "They are left to fend for themselves, waiting for everyone to catch up and I didn't feel that was fair for gifted children," she said.

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